Heroes of IoT Ecosystems (S1:E6)

March 8, 2022

Humans in Tech | Heroes of IoT Ecosystems (S1:E6) Vera Mauerberger, Product Manager of RFID Transponders at Identiv, joins us to talk about her own journey in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and an innovative new product ecosystem she just launched, UHF RFID TOM (Tag On Metal). Vera is always busy dreaming up use cases for RFID tech, and the new ultra high frequency (UHF) on-metal solution is flexible enough to tag anything metal, from automotive parts to bicycles.

Full Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:01): You are listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today's most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what's new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity, and IOT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species, and dive into the emerging figital experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture. Speaker 1 (00:41): Identiv's innovative RFID team handles research design and manufacturing. Tags and inlays verify identities and security in the IOT, and are embedded in billions of everyday objects, including medical devices, books, toys, athletic apparel, perishables, and pharmaceuticals. The company digitally secures the physical world. Leigh Dow, VP of global marketing at Identiv and Vera Mauerberger product manager at Identiv, are connecting today to discuss the team's latest product launch UHF RFID TOM labels. Tell us about TOM, Leigh. Leigh Dow (01:12): Vera Mauerberger is joining us. She's a product manager at Identiv and she is connecting today to discuss the team's latest product launch, UHF RFID TOM labels, which is tag on metal. Leigh Dow (01:34): Our thin RFID on metal portfolio is a flexible way to tag and track metallic items with the highest ultra high frequency performance. But Vera, being an engineer, I bow to her to do the product justice. Vera, thank you so much for joining us today. Before we dig into what makes this new RFID label so unique, we'd love for you to share your background with our audience. Vera M. (01:57): Great. Thanks for having me today. My role with Identiv is product manager for RFID transponders. And as my background, I come from a printed electronics background. And during my studies in print media technology and management, I came to Identiv for my master thesis. After I've finished that, I've started as a project engineer in the R and D team from Identiv for RFD transponders. I think that also helps me now to understand a little bit more about how the processes are, how our engineering works, how the development processes work, and especially also to know what's possible and what's not possible and where the difficulties are. That's also very helpful for my now day to day work as product manager. Leigh Dow (03:01): I didn't know that about your background, I didn't know that you started with your Masters thesis. I had no idea. That's really cool. In your opinion, how has your unique background contributed to your success at Identiv? Vera M. (03:15): Well, as I'm located in Germany, directly close to our R and D team, so I think that's where a very huge benefit is because we have very good opportunities to exchange very simple as we are sharing the offices. But also the knowledge that comes from my background. On one hand side, from the printed electronics part, that I know what's possible maybe to combine with other technologies with our transponder products. But also knowing from the engineering background, from the development background, what's possible, what chips and antennas work best together and which technical requirements can be done and what's the best solution in the end. Leigh Dow (04:11): Okay. We know these flexible UHF, RFID TOM labels can tag any type of metal item. Let's start with the main use cases and applications. Can you give us some examples? Vera M. (04:26): Yeah, sure. As you already said, it can be attached to nearly any metallic application or any metallic surface or underground. And I think the thing is that, of course you can tag everything that's metallic, but you need the best use case for UHF. So if you take a small everyday item you would use, their UHF would not help too much. But when we talk about industrial applications, about of automotive applications, inventory applications, everywhere where larger rearranges are required and everywhere where machinery is included or something like that, this is where UHF tag on metal makes sense to be included. Vera M. (05:23): For example, when you think about logistics and shipping containers, these are all made from metal. And this is one use case, but also for automotive production, car chassis are all made from metallic. That's only one or two examples where the UHF home techs are a good fit. Leigh Dow (05:56): Well, I think one of the things that's really interesting about these is that, yeah, you have these really big, you might have shipping containers or an automobile, but there's also very tiny applications for this as well. Vera M. (06:09): Yeah, that's true. One thing that might not come to mind when you think about that, because as I said, mainly it's industrial where UHF RIDs used. But one very nice, little bit smaller or tinier application, is something like bike frame tagging. If you think about rental bikes or also rental e-scooter brakes, so those can also be tagged with the UHF tag on metal tag, because for the whole system, you sometimes need to have a solution to track these items, these bikes very simple. And once the bike or scooter is touched or equipped with the UHF on metal tag, you can just pass by a UHF gate and it's tracked. Leigh Dow (07:07): I read the other day, I thought this was really interesting, there's a whole industry now of people who work overnight, who go around and collect all the bikes and scooters that are just left somewhere and they get paid per bike or per scooter that they deliver back to the home station. It's a whole industry now, which I thought was really interesting. It's almost like a gig economy where they get paid just to go collect all those things and put them back where they belong. Vera M. (07:36): Yeah, absolutely. I think especially there, it makes sense to work with UHF because if you think about, okay, they collect hundreds every night and if they had to a tag every of those scooters and bikes by hand or manually, that takes immense time or it's very time consuming. And if they just use UHF they will just throw it through their UHF gate that's maybe in their transporter where they collect the cars or the bikes or the scooters, and then it's automatically collected. Leigh Dow (08:19): So what do you think are some of the most unique use cases dreamed up so far for UHF TOM? Vera M. (08:24): Well, I think especially if you think about this bike tag, for example, I think that's something that's very interesting because that's a market, as you said, that's growing and more and more people join. And that's one part that's a little bit more unique, especially as our products are very, very flexible. The nice thing about the UHF on metal or our UHF tag on metal attack is that it's so flexible in also use cases. So you can really tag anything that comes to your mind that's made of metal, if you say, "Okay- Leigh Dow (09:14): Okay. We know that ultra high frequency technology provides the highest read range possible, but are there any options and types of UHF TOM available today and the benefits and advantages? Vera M. (09:34): I think that one of the best advantages of our product is that it's extremely thin. So it's only a little bit more than one millimeter thin. Most tag on metal applications in the UHF section are mainly so called hard tag. So tags that are in a plastic housing. And therefore, as you can imagine, those tags are more expensive to produce because all tags or every single tag is in this plastic housing. And that's something that's not needed for our UHF on metal tags. So the UHF TOM tags from Identiv are, as you already know, the flexible PT based tags, but not in a housing, but with a foam included, which then makes it able to be readable and still makes it so flexible that you can also attach them to bend surfaces, for example, and not only to flat surfaces, but you can attach it to flat flood surfaces. By avoiding or not needing this plastic housing, our product is also less expensive than these hard tags. Leigh Dow (10:57): Gotcha. So how easy is it to purchase these labels? What if somebody wants a demo? Vera M. (11:03): That's pretty simple. We have the option to purchase those is some kind of sample kit directly from our web shop at shop.identiv.com. There we have two different kits available, one FCC kit for the US region and one Etsy version for the European EA region. And there we have two different options included, one little bit smaller version. Vera M. (11:35): Our UHF RFID TOM base with a read range up to five meters or around five meters and we have the UHF RFID TOM pro, which is a little bit larger, but also has great read ranges up to nine or nearly 10 meters. You can buy those from our web shop. And if you want higher volumes or higher volumes are required, you can contact our sales team and they can also in introduce you to the product and give you a demo. All of this can be found on our website, just at identiv.com on the transponder side. And there you can register for a demo and ask all the questions that you have for this product. Leigh Dow (12:26): Nice. Can you give us a glimpse of what else is coming down the pipeline for Identiv RFID product team? I know that this team is growing so quickly. What are you most excited about for this year? Vera M. (12:37): Yeah, sure. I think it's a very exciting year that's just started. There will be more UHF solutions, for example. We just started with the a UHF tag on metal, but also, as you maybe know, we are already very strong in the healthcare segment. This will grow as well. And also, the sensing products, there will be some use as well. So all in all new creative solutions from our development teams will come and stay tuned. Leigh Dow (13:16): Well, it's really great to talk with you and Identiv is really known in this space for being a great design engineering partner because of people like you. I'm really looking forward to meeting you next week in Germany. As a Phoenix, Arizona resident, I'm not looking forward to the cold, but I'm definitely looking forward to meeting you in person, finally. Vera M. (13:38): Yes, me too. I'm really looking forward that we finally have the chance to meet and don't be afraid of the coldness. It's snowing right now, but it will be very nice. Leigh Dow (13:49): Excellent. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Vera M. (13:52): Thank you very much, Leigh Speaker 1 (13:53): The all in one you create NFC mobile application platform makes it easy to develop, prototype, test and successfully launch NFC enabled applications. This ecosystem was built for developers new to NFC app development and includes a software development kit, curated collection of NFC tags, a mobile app, technical support and documentation. With you create NFC, the possibilities are limitless. Learn more at identiv.com. Speaker 1 (14:26): Meet UHF RFID TOM labels. Our thin RFID on metal portfolio is a flexible way to tag and track metallic items with the highest ultra high frequency performance. Tag any type of metal item in industrial applications, container tracking, metal based commodities and goods, bike tagging, and practically any application in the automotive industry. Learn more at identiv.com. Speaker 1 (14:53): Physical security, identity verification, the IOT, the hyper connectivity of our lives will only grow more pervasive. As technology becomes more automated and experiences more augmented, it's up to us to preserve our humanity and use new tools and trends for good. The only question is, are we up for the challenge?